UTTARKASHI, India — Forty-one development employees emerged dazed and smiling late Tuesday from a collapsed tunnel the place they’d been stranded the final 17 days — a cheerful ending to an ordeal that had gripped India and concerned a large rescue operation that overcame a number of setbacks.
Locals, kinfolk and authorities officers erupted in pleasure, set off firecrackers and shouted “Bharat Mata ki Jai” — Hindi for “Lengthy stay mom India” — as pleased employees walked out after receiving a quick checkup by medical doctors. Officers hung garlands round their necks as the gang cheered.
Nitin Gadkari, the nation’s minister of highway transport and highways, mentioned in a video posted on the social media platform X that he was “utterly relieved and pleased” that all the employees have been rescued from the Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarkashi, a city in India’s northern state of Uttarakhand.
“This was a well-coordinated effort by a number of companies, marking some of the important rescue operations lately,” Gadkari mentioned.
Nobody was severely injured or killed when a landslide brought on a bit of the 4.5-kilometer (2.8-mile) tunnel about 200 meters (220 yards) from the doorway to break down early on the morning of Nov. 12. The employees have been ending their shifts and plenty of have been probably wanting ahead to celebrating Diwali, the Hindu pageant of lights, that day.
The employees had gentle within the collapsed tunnel, and since early of their ordeal, they have been supplied with meals, water and oxygen by way of pipes. Greater than a dozen medical doctors, together with psychiatrists, have been additionally on the web site monitoring their well being.
Officers mentioned all 41 employees made it by way of the ordeal in good well being. Earlier than rising to the cameras and crowds and being whisked away in ambulances, every was given a checkup at a makeshift medical camp within the tunnel entrance.
The rescue was anticipated to be simple and final just a few days, however a sequence of setbacks led to its growth and to the employees being trapped for greater than two weeks.
In the course of the closing stretch, a couple of dozen rescuers took turns digging by way of rocks and particles in a single day Monday into Tuesday utilizing hand-held drilling instruments, mentioned Kirti Panwar, a state authorities spokesperson.
Rescuers resorted to digging by hand after the machine they’d been utilizing broke down Friday. The machine had bored by way of about 47 meters (51 yards) of the roughly 57-60 meters (62-66 yards) wanted to succeed in the employees.
The employees have been extracted one after the other on a wheeled stretcher that was pulled by way of a roughly meter-wide (yard-wide) tunnel of welded pipes that crews had pushed by way of the dug-out area.
Devender, a rescuer who solely gave his first identify, informed the New Delhi Tv channel that “the trapped employees have been overjoyed after they noticed us within the tunnel. Some rushed towards me and hugged me.”
A lot of the employees have been migrant laborers from all through the nation, and plenty of of their households traveled to the positioning and camped out for days in hopes of seeing them rescued.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to a number of the rescued employees over the cellphone and requested about their wellbeing, the Press Belief of India information company reported. He mentioned their braveness and persistence have been an inspiration to everybody, and he wished them good well being.
He additionally praised the many individuals who took half within the rescue.
“Everybody concerned within the mission has created a tremendous instance of humanity and teamwork,” Modi mentioned.
The tunnel the employees have been constructing was designed as a part of the Chardham all-weather highway, which is able to join varied Hindu pilgrimage websites. Some specialists say the mission, a flagship initiative of the federal authorities, will exacerbate fragile situations within the higher Himalayas, the place a number of cities are constructed atop landslide particles.
Giant numbers of pilgrims and vacationers go to Uttarakhand’s many Hindu temples, with the quantity growing through the years due to the continued development of buildings and roadways.
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